9 03-24-88 04:40 pcs Ark., Mo. Sheriff takes boys from commune SANTA CLARITA VAL
9 03-24-88 04:40 pcs Ark., Mo. Sheriff takes boys from
SANTA CLARITA VALLEY, Calif. (UPI) _ Sheriff's deputies
Thursday removed three young boys from a controversial religious
commune and returned them to the custody of their fathers.
The youngsters were living with their mothers at the Tony and
Susan Alamo Foundation, a religious commune 30 miles northwest of
downtown Los Angeles, Deputy Richard Dinsmoor said.
Deputies served search warrants and a court order about 6 a.m.
at the site without incident. The boys were then reunited with
their fathers, Carey Miller, 34, and Robert Miller, 35, Dinsmoor
The Miller brothers, in Orange County Superior Court, had
obtained orders returning the boys to their custody, Dinsmoor
The two brothers had been members of the church in Arkansas
until last fall when they were excommunicated and their wives
obtained divorces and remarried, Dinsmoor said.
Two of the boys, Bobby Lee, 4 and Kody, 9, are Robert Miller's
sons. The other, Justin 11, is Carey Miller's son.
Tony Alamo and his wife, Susan, who died in Arkansas of cancer
in 1982, considered themselves the architects of the "Jesus
Freak" movement. They created the foundation in the late 1960s
and spread their gospel to young dropouts roaming the streets of
Except for a skeleton crew, the foundation pulled out of
California more than a decade ago and established headquarters in
a secluded mansion in the Ozark Mountains near Alma and Dyer,
Alamo, called "Papa Tony" by his followers, assumed sole
control of the foundation following his wife's death. He
returned to California after a series of run-ins with local and
federal officials. The Internal Revenue Service revoked the
foundation's tax-exempt status in 1985 after deciding that one of
its primary purposes was making money.
The foundation believes in "total control," Carey Miller said
in an interview before Judge Ronald Owen heard their case. "You
turn every penny you earn over to the church. You live on five
dollars a week."
The brothers fled from the foundation's Arkansas headquarters
"with the clothes on their backs," he said. Their sons
subsequently came with their mothers to California.
The Millers said they were concerned about their sons' safety
in the commune.
"I have knowledge of children being beaten with boards,"
Robert Miller said. "I know of one child being beaten with a
board 100 times until he passed out."
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in December, Alamo
spurned suggestions he fosters a cult and remained adament that
the foundation's mission is saving lost souls.
"They are needy," Alamo said of the converts. "They are on
narcotics and drugs. We got them off narcotics and drugs. We
are trying to show them a real good life."
Would-be converts are provided copies of "The Pope's Secrets"
a tract by the anti-Catholic Alamo, alleging that the pope is a
homosexual and the "super boss of all government agencies."
Alamo was born Bernie Lazar Hoffman in Joplin, Mo., and raised
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank